Chinese Chainsaw Issues

Avoid cheap foreign chainsaws unless you are a mechanic.

Stihl Chainsaw Parts
A Chainsaw is Complicated. Dorling Kindersley, Getty Images

Chainsaws made in China have drawn great interest in the past few years, including brands such as Blue Max, Zomax and Showbull. You can easily buy these and other Chinese-made chainsaws on various internet sites. But, is it worth the risk of saving a few dollars to buy a Chinese-made chainsaw, especially site unseen? The answer is generally no, but read on for some tips and cautions.

Don't Buy Over the Internet

Consumers have reported problems with Chinese chainsaws they purchased on the internet.

As one buyer noted: "I recently purchased a saw on the internet. I have to report that the saw is very poorly made (with) obviously poor quality control. The saw I purchased was not properly packed nor did it come with a manufacturer's manual or thorough safety instructions."

This consumer's experience illustrates the danger of buying any chainsaw on the internet. Here are a few tips for avoiding issues:

  • Never buy a chainsaw without being able to see, touch and inspect it personally.
  • If you buy a chainsaw over the internet, ensure that you receive at least a 30-day warranty.
  • Buy chainsaws from trusted and well-reviewed companies, such as Husqvarna, Stihl and Echo, which are all well-made with sturdy parts. These companies have service departments in nearly every community in North America.
  • Buy your chainsaw from a dealer. Most chainsaw dealers will not service saws sold at department stores -- or those sold over the internet. So, the money you save buying an inexpensive chainsaw will be lost if the saw breaks. You'll be hard-pressed to find a shop that will repair these saws.

    Educate Yourself

    The problem is not so much in buying a Chinese-made chainsaw; the issue is purchasing any machine sight unseen. If you buy a Chinese chainsaw on the internet, you have no way to verify its quality, generally are left without a warranty and have little recourse to repair the machine if it breaks.

    Though some of the Chinese chainsaws may carry respected brand names, they are often produced by any number of subcontracting firms. 

    Instead, take the time to educate yourself about the parts of a chainsaw, maintenance requirements, what you'll be using the chainsaw for and even your level of expertise. If you're a beginner, for example, you'll want to look for specific requirements for your first chainsaw. "Chainsaw Journal" suggests you examine such issues as kickback, bar length and safety features. You can't carefully review any of these things if you buy your chainsaw over the internet from a company with which you are unfamiliar.

    Take It for a 'Test Drive'

    Chainsaw manufacturers are using newer and lighter materials to build more powerful but durable machines. One of the most important questions to ask yourself when buying the saw is: How does it feel? If the chainsaw is too bulky, it will be harder for you to use. Some of the best chainsaws are small and light. Here are a few tips:

    The main thing is to examine the saw yourself before buying one. That's something you can't do over the internet.

    So, don some work gloves, visit a few dealers and spend an hour or two trying out some chainsaws. That's the best way to ensure that you purchase a quality chainsaw that will last for years.